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Pakistan Arrests 150 At Rally Supporting Blasphemy Laws


Pakistani activists light candles on the anniversary of the death of the governor of Punjab Province, Salmaan Taseer, in Lahore on January 4, 2016.

Pakistani activists light candles on the anniversary of the death of the governor of Punjab Province, Salmaan Taseer, in Lahore on January 4, 2016.

Pakistani police say they have arrested at least 150 hard-line Muslim activists at a rally in favor of the country's harsh blasphemy laws in the city of Lahore.

The January 4 rally coincided with the commemoration for a former governor killed for supporting a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.

Authorities said around 300 clerics attended two separate rallies in Lahore, blocking main roads and clashing with police. Officers used tear-gas to disperse the rally, police said.

Governor Salman Taseer was shot dead in Islamabad by his own security guard on January 4, 2011, after he spoke out for Asia Bibi, a Christian mother on death row over blasphemy.

On December 3, one of Taseer's sons, Shan Taseer, angered hard-liners by calling on social media for a review of the blasphemy laws and supporting Bibi.

Under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of Insulting Islam can be sentenced to death.

More than 100 people are charged with blasphemy and jailed each year in Pakistan, many of them Christians and other minorities.

No one has yet been executed, but at least 65 people have been murdered by hard-liners in connection with blasphemy allegations since 1990.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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